I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the matter of preparing Britain's economy for the future.
Nobody in the country today needs reminding of the difficult times the world economy currently faces. It is a hard truth that the global economy has contracted for the first time since the second world war. Output in the UK has fallen over the last three quarters by 4.1 per cent. and by 3 per cent. in the US, 5 per cent. in Italy, 6.9 per cent. in Germany and 9.1 per cent. in Japan—grim statistics indeed. Now is a time for action, a time for tough decisions. Moreover, it is a time to take decisions for the long term as well to respond to the immediate problems. That is why today's topical debate is so important.
Of course, the No. 1 priority has been to deal with the immediate problems, ensuring that the downturn is as short and shallow as possible. This means responding in particular to the threat to the economy posed by the banking crisis, but it also means taking steps to mitigate the impacts on real people—on those who may have lost their job or been unable to find their first one, on those worried about their financial circumstances and their savings, or on those perhaps having trouble paying their mortgages or getting on the housing ladder. The longer-term challenge is no less important. That means preparing for the upswing to ensure that we have a sustained recovery and make the most of the UK economy's underlying strengths.
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